Nintendo's Wii U got a doozy of an update late last night, as version 5.0 finally brought the long-awaited Quick Start menu option. Curious to see how it stacked up against Nintendo's own demonstration video, I did a few tests. It works as advertised, but only as long as you understand its limitations.
First, for comparison, I started a game without the Quick Start menu. I used Mario Kart 8 for all of the tests except where noted otherwise. Without the Quick Start, it took 26 seconds to get into the menu, and another 12 to start up Mario Kart. A total of roughly 40 seconds is longer than most gamers wanted to wait, which prompted the update.
With the Quick Start option, the menu showed up incredibly fast, in just 1-2 seconds. The game still took 22 seconds to start. I tried out a second game, NES Remix 2, just to make sure that time was indicative of games in general. It was just under 28 seconds, so that approximate range seemed correct. This was certainly a reduction from the 40 seconds without the option.
It turns out in this case, Nintendo was showing optimal circumstances. In my own tests, I had been tapping on the selected game almost as soon as it showed up on the menu. Nintendo's demonstration video, by comparison, showed the player more leisurely tapping on different game icons for a while, then selecting a game. My method assumes the player knows exactly what he or she wants to play and wishes to dive right in, while Nintendo took a relaxed approach.
Sure enough, when I imitated the slower pace of selecting a game, the load time was significantly reduced. This time Mario Kart loaded in 12 seconds, well within the boundaries of the demonstration video. It's important to remember, then, that the Quick Start menu is giving you a quick way to access your library, but the Wii U system still has to start up. Rushing to select a game just means you'll wait longer for the system to start up and load it. It's a reduction either way, but it will certainly feel much shorter if you take your time in selecting a game.